I’m Dreaming of a Scary Christmas


I’m reminded by a regular reader and contributor to The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog that it seems that many Christmas stories we know today had a much different start so many years ago. Writers wrote stories differently way back in the early years. Many times stories were written down so they could be shared with many generations to come, most of which had always been word of mouth stories. This reader has taken a “look” into some of the roots for the rhyme or reason behind the scary season and why we love to see, read, and hear all of those great scary Christmas stories.

I know what you’re thinking. What possesses someone to write scary Christmas stories? What is there about Christmas that could possibly be considered scary, creepy, ghoulish, demented, or hair-raising?

Oh, where to start.

At their heart, scary Christmas stories are about subverting innocent childhood memories, adding eerie and unimagined dimensions to them. For regular people, Christmas is about celebration and wonder—or that mad dash to the mall. They aren’t like those strange, twisted individuals who imagine burning red eyes flaring alongside the other lights in a Christmas tree, or hear soot-caked claws scraping inside the brick belly of the chimney.

A Background on Scary Christmas Stories

I blame the Victorians. They loved their ghost stories, and Christmastime was when they gathered around the fire and did their best to scare each other. Charles Dickens almost single-handedly rescued Christmas—at least as a secular, feel-good holiday—through his famous ghost story, A Christmas Carol.

The practice has its roots in primitive Yuletide rituals, before the Christians came along and roped it all together into Christmas. Before anyone celebrated the birth of Christ, winter was a frightening time. The nights stretched on forever, the cold swept in, and nothing grew. Primitive people celebrated surviving to the halfway point—the winter solstice, or Yule—which represented the death and (hopeful) rebirth of the sun.

Christmas Eve back then was perhaps the darkest part of the year. With the sun gone and the light extinguished, the membrane between the worlds of the living and the dead grew thin. Ghost were allowed to escape, to wreak havoc or make amends.

So it’s plain to see that Christmas has always been scary. The light and innocence of the time was a direct response to the pervasive darkness and fear that came with winter. Like fairy tales, Christmas traditions often have grisly, Old-World origins that have been forgotten.

Even Santa had a dark side. Whatever his incarnation—Santa, Saint Nick, Father Christmas—he tended to have a shadow partner, a silent, hooded fellow named Black Pete or Knecht Ruprecht who doled out justice to those who had been naughty, usually beating them with a stick from the bundle he hauled around on his back.

And we won’t even start with Krampus (at least for now).

Suffice it to say, scary Christmas stories have very deep roots in our current culture, even though we aren’t really aware of them these days. A select few souls try to keep this tradition alive, usually by enjoying the scary Christmas tales told by others, or by penning a few ourselves.

5 Elements of Scary Christmas Stories

Scary Christmas stories come in all shapes and sizes and wrapping paper. But if you’re of a mind to scribble down a few scary holiday tales of your own, here are a few common elements to bear in mind.

1). Subversion, or do the Twist

This is the fun part. Find an aspect about the holiday and twist it around, or find a scary explanation for it. Tim Allen did this with his series The Santa Clause. Before it became a movie, it started out as a dark short story about a man who shoots Santa and then is doomed to take his place.

This is where the Doctor Who specials really shine. They take a beloved aspect of Christmas (e.g., glass globes, Christmas trees, Santas, stars, snow, snowmen, etc.) and twist it into something frightening (and fascinating).

So when you write your scary Christmas story, don’t forget to do the twist!

2). Yuletide Justice

Christmas is about justice. Children in particular understand this. Good kids get their reward, bad kids get their comeuppance, and all is well with the world. In a true Christmas story of the darker persuasion, don’t forget that in the end, Christmas Eve is one of those few times of the year when the scales of justice are in balance.

3). Reunions

Christmas is about coming together with family and friends—sometimes even from beyond the grave. The clarion call to return home for Christmas can easily be connected to the draw of nostalgia, the longing for times long past, for the innocence of childhood and the wonder of growing up.

That nostalgia draws loved ones together (even if the relationship has soured some) across miles, and sometimes worlds. Ghosts often find their way home for Christmas, but the return of a beloved family member from beyond the grave isn’t always what we imagine it will be.

And sometimes it isn’t love that draws the dearly departed back home. Sometimes, it’s revenge.

4). Powers Dark and Powers Bright

Because it’s considered a holiday for children, we usually play up the lighter, more whimsical aspects of Christmas. But a scary Christmas story should serve as a reminder that everything has its opposite. Good and evil, night and day, winter and spring, Santa and Ruprecht, Rudolph and Frosty. Just as the scales of justice must be balanced, make sure you balance the light with the dark.

5). Toys (and Other Bright Shiny Things)

Like it or not, Christmas is about toys these days. Most people love toys, especially writers. Like Anton Chekov, for instance. He reminds writers to: “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that these is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter, it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

There is also writers’ favorite Christmas gift to their readers: the MacGuffin.

The “MacGuffin” was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a plot device that can take on many shapes and forms, but primarily serves as the motivation for the characters in a story. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what the MacGuffin is; what matter is that so many people in the story want it. A MacGuffin can be an object, a person, a place—a bag of cash, a suitcase bomb, a Maltese falcon, a jewel, etc.

So be sure to break out the best, shiniest MacGuffin for your story. Fire off that Chekov’s gun! Make sure your story makes good use of its toys. As I close, I remind everyone to look at their Christmas books, Christmas movies, and the sorted Christmas tales you tell, you might be surprised at it’s origin or true meaning. Tis the season to have a very Merry Scary Christmas!

My Children & The Blogging World


All three of my children have been pressing me to help them each get a blog off the ground. I keep blowing them off jokingly because I really think they are asking the wrong person about how to make a blog. Since I consider my own writing to be an illustration of my thoughts, concerns, and opinions before I think of it as a blog, I find it hard giving advice. My children changed their tactics, they all three got together to hit me all at once, and to put me in the hot seat. I don’t like to be in the hot seat and I really am not a good teacher. Before we begin, let me just make it clear that the purpose of this particular post is for my children, because after we talked I decided I needed to write out what I had said for future reference of my own personal guidelines. If, someone else, anyone else, follows the guidelines y’all are absolutely on your own. The mere fact that I will write any of this down is coincidental and should not be taken as your guidelines or rules for your internet blogging experience. However, if you find some of it to be helpful then that is great as well. So, before I begin I will give introduction to my children, referenced by age, gender, and initials. My son, JB, 12 y/o. My daughter, CD, 17 y/o. My daughter, LW, 23 y/o. Each of them a different identity with different ideas but all three share one common denominator, me.

The very first thing, and to me, the most important thing to remember is that anything and everything you post to the internet is going to be able to be viewed by anyone in the world. Can you tell we have had a similar conversation about Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram? I remind them that if they are not willing to share it with the world then it does not belong on the internet and that is a choice they must live with every single time they click the “publish” button. I also explained the whole “blogosphere” thing to them. We looked at what makes up the blogosphere and what makes it such a desirable place to be. I borrow the definition of blogosphere from the Wikipedia definition. “Blogosphere: The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network in which everyday authors can publish their opinions“. It may not be the best definition, but it is the simplist to understand. Because, in the end, the interconnection of all the blogs is what defines the different communities that have evolved over the years.

I try to follow these simple steps and rules because over time they are what helps me personally. I reminded them that it isn’t just about writing their blog, it is about interacting with readers, as well as going out exploring other blogs they might have an interest in. I have also recommended they use the WordPress format because it is super simple to use.

  • The number one thing you need is subject material to write about on your blog. One cannot always pick a subject that people might be searching for, but their is always an endless list of things to write about. If you blog about something specific then you need to stick to the subject. If you have an open ended blog the sky is the limit. Give value, no matter how small and somebody out there will appreciate the post and you will begin to get yourself a following. Remember that as long as you know more than somebody else you have something to offer.
  • Writing a blog post needs to come from you. It can be as original as you are and still be about something you read, saw, or did. The key with every post is writing is writing something that sounds like YOU. Write your content in your words, put your own personality into it, state your views, sound different then the rest of the crowd, and then it will stand out more.
  • Now you need to bring all of the elements of your post together. Writing a blog post consists of sticking with a set layout that will work on most if not all of your posts. Put keywords in the title, then again in each paragraph, sum it all up with the last paragraph so your reader doesn’t feel left hanging, and add in more of your keywords. Be sure to add tags to your post which refer to the keywords so relevant searches can happen. There should be searchable keywords throughout your post.
  • You must continue to ask yourself if everything makes sense, is there too much information or not enough, and fine tune it so your keywords are placed in logical places so they don’t look like they were placed randomly. If what you are writing does not make sense then the reader will quickly move on and probably dismiss any future posts because they feel their time is being wasted.
  • Proof reading is both the blessing and the curse of anything that is written. But, those who are just starting out need to look for the misspelled words, the missing words, and the sentences that just don’t make any sense for some reason. This is a hard one for me because I write as if I were speaking and I generally do not proof read until after it is published or after a grammar Nazi gets ahold of me.
  • For the most part it is always important to consider who your audience actually is. Do you know who your audience is? Do you care who your audience is? I’m a firm believer in writing for yourself and not for the purpose of pleasing others. If people want to read what you write then they will and if not then they generally move on. Don’t let this fact determine how you write or what you write about because then your message will get blurred and eventually lost.
  • Be sure you pick your battles when deciding what to write about. As much as you may want to, you can’t enlighten everyone on the internet because not every single person is actually interested in what you have to say. This is a hard pill that everyone of us has to swallow. Realize this simple factoid and you will be able to hold on to your sanity.
  • Always remember that there are other people on the other side of your computer screen. These people may not share your opinions and they may not appreciate what you have to say. Not everyone is liked by everyone. Many people hide behind their internet identity and write things that they wouldn’t say or do in real life. These people will try to bring you down to their level, so just try to remember that just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean that you are always right.
  • Try to write as if you were speaking to someone sitting next to you. It will change how and what you write. Remember that once you hit publish it is going to be available to millions of people. As an example, my family reads my blog on occasion and eventhough they don’t care for my blog sometimes they don’t give me allot of grief. They know the real me and know that the on-line me are the same person. I am who I am no matter where I am. Does this work for everyone? I couldn’t tell you but I know it works for me.
  • When in doubt, don’t publish it. I have written many posts that have never been published and probably never will be. They are reminders to me that my opinion is sometimes best left unwritten and unseen. Remember that over time you will gain followers as well as haters, both should be embraced knowing that people are indeed reading what you wrote.
  • Finally, nobody will find you by accident. You need to promote yourself through the different social networking platforms that are out there. Share what you write and you will receive feedback and comments. I’m sure there are many more fine social networks out there. I personally use Blogcatalog, Google+, and Facebook. While on the topic of “communities” I would like to mention Blogcatalog since I have been a member there for many years. Blogcatalog is full of many great people sporting great personalies and blogs as well. Blogcatalog is a place to discuss anything from A – Z and everything in between. It has been a great place for support, growing friendships, and also gives my me ideas and inspiration for different topics I might right about.

I remind y’all that I’m writing this for my children, all who read my blog, all who know who I am as a father, an individual, as well as a person who has been around the world a few times while taking the time to observe and learn something new. Are there things I wish they wouldn’t read? Sure, but I don’t tend to hide things from people. My wife would like me to quit writing my blog altogether. She has her reasons. She also “allows” me to continue because she knows I enjoy doing it and that is what this all about, enjoy what you are doing. She is happy I keep names out of my blog and when she reads it she knows most of the time who I am talking about. My writing style isn’t for everyone but it is what works for me. Soon enough my children will have their individual blogs up, running, and operational. When they do one can be assured that I will be promoting them here and through the normal ritualistic channels that I normally use. For now, this post is over, y’all will be reading more about their blogs in the near future. In fact, my son will be providing the next guest post for me. It will be an unedited “page” from his journal to see if he likes seeing his thoughts out there for everyone to see.

Maybe y’all gained something from all of this nonsense and if you did, maybe, just maybe, it might be a step closer for everyone to help figure out why I try to write here everyday. Doing posts like this one is allot like therapy because I learn things about myself I otherwise have been taking for granted. Both images used in this post were acquired using a Google image search and are being borrowed to illustrate a point. I claim no ownership of either picture.